I attended the June 28, 2022 Camden County Commission meeting at 10:00 a.m.
I’ve been slacking a bit lately, but I’ve had a busy week or so. I am just a one Gadfly operation, after all.
All commissioners were present.
There were 12 other people in the audience besides the Camden County employees who usually attend the meeting.
The meeting led off with Public Comment.
The first gentleman to speak had questions about the Peninsula Development Project. (This is the proposed athletic event center and hotel development.) He had experience working with TIF projects and wanted to know how it would be financed? Would it be financed using property or sales tax revenue?
Commissioner Williams stated that Camden County will not finance the project by using one of their own municipal bonds. The developers had asked them to do that, but the Commission had refused. The Commission didn’t currently know exactly what the financing would look like.
Chris Foster, one of the developers, was at the meeting and he assured the gentleman that while the project will be financed by a bond, they weren’t asking Camden County to back the bond for the project.
Chris Foster then went before the Commission and asked them if they were going to just discuss the hiring of a financial advisor for the project at this meeting or actually vote to hire a financial advisor at this meeting?
Commissioner Hasty told Foster they were going to vote on a financial advisor at this meeting.
Commissioner Williams said the Commission was going to vote on whether they should hire Jon Benson from DA Davidson. Benson is one of the bankers who has helped Camden County with the refinancing of their sewer bonds and the municipal bond to repair the county government buildings.
Some citizens then asked if there was going to be a vote to approve the expenditure of Camden County’s ARPA funds? The citizens felt the majority of the ARPA money should be spent on road and bridge repairs.
Commissioner Williams said they were going to vote to spend $2.5 million on water and sewer districts and $1 million on roads. This triggered a contentious discussion between Commissioner Williams and some of the citizens. People were talking over each other and it would have been difficult for a court stenographer to keep up with what was being said back and forth.
The Road and Bridge Administrator mentioned that FEMA funding should be available for bridge repair next year.
Apparently, Commissioners Gohagan and Williams had both received the list of ARPA projects only the day before the meeting because they had to be vetted by BKD, the county’s ARPA consultant.
Richard Ross and Ron Yarbrough spoke to thank the Commission for the $250,000 in ARPA funds that were previously approved for the Lake Area Community Development Corporation. This money was intended to start up a pre-approval program for USDA direct loans. Their intent was to hire a loan packager who would pre-approve lower income home buyers for these special mortgages so they could attract builders to the lake area to build more entry level housing for residents. Brian Yansen, the Executive Director of the Lake of the Ozarks Council of Local Governments, would act as the executive officer for this operation.
I’m not sure why they spoke at this meeting since their request was already approved. Brian Yansen was there and he didn’t seem too thrilled that they were bringing it up again at a Commission meeting because this ARPA expenditure had been controversial in past meetings. He had that look a parent has when your kid raises her hand in church to ask the pastor a question in the middle of a service. You’re just praying it goes well.
Brian Yansen also spoke before the Commission. He explained that it was a good idea for Camden County to use county ARPA money to acquire more state ARPA money. The ARPA money would just be pledged and would be used only if the water grants for the water and sewer districts were approved. By using the money in this manner, Camden County could potentially turn $2.5 million into $11.9 million for water district improvements.
(This was discussed at a previous Commission meeting. By contributing more than 20% of the financing required by a water district project, the districts’ Missouri ARPA grant applications will be scored higher and they’re more likely to be approved.)
That pretty much wrapped up Public Comment. We hadn’t even started on the public agenda items and I already felt like I needed to lie down.
The first agenda item was: Peninsula Development Project – Retain Service Financial Advisor.
Commissioner Williams made a motion for Camden County to retain the services of DA Davidson as their financial advisor for the Peninsula Development Project. Commissioner Gohagan declined to second the motion, so Commissioner Hasty seconded it. The final vote was 2-0 in favor with Gohagan abstaining.
The next agenda item was: ARPA Funds Review and Approval.
The first ARPA item was Encounter Cove. Two representatives from Encounter Ministry were seeking funding to upgrade the water and sewer system for the Encounter Cove Camp and Conference Center. They are a non-profit corporation. It seems the original builders spent a great deal of money on the water and sewer system for the property, but they ran out of cash before they could finish it all. The system was originally designed to handle 100,000 visitors.
They were seeking $300,000 for a 20% contribution to their own grant request for state ARPA money. They would be willing to provide sewer and water services to the surrounding communities if needed. The Commission suggested Encounter Cove talk to the PWSD#5 District to see if they could work something out with them. That sounded like good advice to me.
The Commission tabled this request.
$100,000 for the Food Banks was approved.
$150,000 for the animal shelter at the Sheriff’s range was approved.
$2,519,643 for the water district ARPA grants was approved.
$100,000 for a Road and Bridge salt storage facility was approved, but it needs a new bid.
$80,000 for the Bollinger Creek stormwater project was approved. The creek is eroding a nearby cemetery and the bank needs to be stabilized. Yikes! That sounded like something that needs to fixed.
$350,000 for the Cybersecurity Network was approved. This will cover instituting two factor authentication, a new server, and increasing the IT support to 5 days a week.
$396,436 ARPA Population Reduction Contingency was approved. This is a cushion in case Camden County’s ARPA funding is reduced because of changes in the recent census.
$1,000,000 to Road and Bridge was approved.
The following ARPA requests were tabled:
Osage Beach PD (No idea about this one. Probably radios.)
Sylvan Bay Owner’s Association ($15,000)
Camden County Disaster Unit ($174,000)
Stoutland and Climax Springs School District Broadband Service ($400,000)
County Admin Grant. This request was intended to hire BKD, the county’s current ARPA consultant, to also assist with grant writing and train county employees to write grants. ($200,000)
The following ARPA requests were denied:
Front Porch Village ($100,000)
CADV: Citizens Against Domestic Violence ($955,000)
The Commission then went into closed session to discuss legal matters…again.
And that was that.
After the meeting, I was able to talk with Chris Foster about the Peninsula Development Project. He explained that they intend to build an athletic center and hotel that will host indoor sports and dance tournaments. This would be a year-round operation that would provide a boost to the local economy even during the off season. The project will be partially funded with a bond, but Camden County would not be responsible for that bond. Investors would be investing solely in the merits of the project itself. Camden County’s main role in the bond process would be committing to divert the sales and property tax from the TIF, CID, and TDD to the bond payment (the bond investors).
The CID and TDD are already established. The intent is to establish the TIF for the project. Simply put for those who aren’t up on their acronyms, the Community Improvement District and Transportation Development District will each divert an extra 1% of sales tax generated in the designated district toward the bond. The Tax Increment Financing District will divert the difference in the property tax between the current property assessment value and the final assessed property value (called the tax increment) toward the bond.